Letters 7.14.15

14. 871LETTERS

WOW! Our unique council has stayed intact. Much gratitude to all who saved us! Special thanks to Ian Ker for his huge input.
Patricia Meydam
Stirling St, Pertht

Royal pains
DEAR public transport authority: I’d like to commend you on your dogged and baffling adherence to rules that don’t make sense.
It’s a good thing you stopped me from taking my bike into the Perth train station at 8.51am—nine minutes before bikes are officially allowed in, and even though the station was pretty much empty and I would have had to make a concerted effort to bump my bike into one of the four people on the platform—because you know what happened last time dumb rules gave way to common sense? That’s right, the exile of Adam and Eve.
But it was okay, I could just ride up to City West and still catch my train: I’ll take the bike path along Roe Street! Haha, just kidding, the path disappears after 70 metres and you have to ride over sand and broken rocks, so you miss your train!
It’s cool, I’ll just drive tomorrow.
Truly, you are kings of sustainable transport.
David Bell
West Perth

Doing better than you think
YOUR article on the turn around in Vincent’s finances didn’t quite get it right.
The article said that the projected outcome for this year would result in a $165,000 deficit.
This was the figure provided to the council at its February briefing session but unfortunately it had at least $700,000 in mistakes which appear to have been picked up by the new finance director prior to the formal council meeting—bravo.
The revised figure is closer to a $535,000 surplus, predicated on the city completing a $13.8 million capital works program even though it had only spent 36 per cent of this by 31 January—so the true surplus could be even higher.
There are a number of reasons for the predicted surplus. Firstly, the council opportunistically ripped $745,000 out of the Seniors Reserve last November even before it knew the true financial picture. A cynical view could be that the council was using the news of the poor financial management as a bit of a smokescreen to grab some extra cash so next year’s budget is a lot gentler on ratepayers—perhaps even a rates decrease.
Another reason for the predicted surplus is the fact the administration mistakenly collected $740,000 more than was intended from ratepayers this year because it used April figures rather than June figures when setting the 2014/15 rates. On average, each property was charged about $40 more than required.
Council has also deferred a number of projects to reduce the deficit. However this does not really address the problem. While it makes the figures look good, it simply results in ratepayers having to pay twice for projects —once this year when they were supposed to happen, and again next year when they will happen.
To address the underlying causes of the deficit the council needs to look at where projects have been overspent (such as the Oxford Street Park, by $215,000) or areas where revenue did not hit targets.  It cannot rely on its privileged position of having income that is not tied to a service. Unlike normal businesses where income is related to providing a service, councils can cut the service yet keep the income.
Another factor that must be taken into account is the council’s reliance on asset sales to fund activities. Last July the council decided to dispose of a number of blocks of land and to use most of the $2 million it was to receive from the sale of the city’s share of surplus land at the Tamala Park waste facility. It should be noted the land sales were decided on before the council was made aware of the error in the retained deficit—it was not a response to grim financial news, it was simply a way of funding projects without increasing rates. While this may work for one or two years it is not sustainable in the long run as the city does not have a large portfolio of surplus property.
Indications from the agenda of the February Forum indicate the council is considering even more land sales in the near future.
But things are not all that grim.  It would appear the new leadership in the administration is finally treating the city’s finances seriously, and Mayor John Carey should be congratulated on bringing about that change.
Dudley Maier
Chatsworth Rd, Highgate

School support
I AM writing as a concerned community member with no personal connection to Perth College and with a daughter who attends a local state school.
I was very surprised to read the opinion about Perth College expressed in last week’s Voice in the context of reviewing a property for sale.
I enjoy reading your reviews on art, food and property, but a review of a property for sale is definitely not an appropriate forum for expressing an opinion about private versus public education.
I think we are very lucky to live in a community that provides choice to the people who live here.
It is in the interests of a local newspaper to promote the positives of all the schools in our community and to celebrate the choice and diversity they offer.
Wendy Campbell
Grosvenor Rd, Mt Lawley
The Ed says: Thanks Wendy. ’twas a light-hearted comment and should be read in that context, but was indeed an affirmation of the very good quality of local public schools.

871 COP 14x2 871 COV 9x3 VIN001020946x70_P.pdf VIN001020943x109_M.pdf 871 COV Karen Clark 10x2

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